5 Fun Facts about Booze Consumption Trends in Singapore

Red wine is the leader

Singaporeans favourite wine is red wine, which represents 70% of the still light wine market with 645,000 of 9-litre cases consumed in 2014. White wine holds the second rank with 251,000 cases consumed in 2014 and will continue to grow by 1.2%.

Rosé wine is becoming more popular

Rosé wine is growing strong. From very low level, rosé wine has grown by 24.2% between 2010 and 2014.

Sparkling wines continue to grow steadily

The sparkling wine category grows steadily but slowly, a trend which is going to continue to 2019 with a forecast 12.3% growth in volume. Champagne is growing stronger than other sparkling wines as it benefits mainly from popularity between tourists and expats.

Top wine supplying countries

Australia dominates the import market with a 38.5% market share. Chile comes second with 16.5% of overall market share. Chilean imports have been boosted by weakening of US dollars, creating a positive growth of 71% between 2010 and 2014. France holds the third rank in 2014, with a 16% market share.

Whisky is the favourite among spirits

Whisky remains the favourite spirit of Singaporeans. The category is forecast to grow by 13.8 % between 2015 and 2019.

Cognac / Armagnac currently holds the second rank, but will continue to decline over the next five years by 5.6% between 2014 and 2019. This is mainly due to decreasing numbers of Chinese tourists.

Vodka ranks third with with 44,000 of 9 litres cases consumed in 2015. It is forecast to decrease slowly by 4.5%.

Gin and Tequila respectively hold the 4th and 5th places in the spirits’ ranking and consumption will be increasing between 2014 and 2019. Gin is forecast to grow by 28.6% and Tequila by 23.1%. The increase is driven by the super-premium gins sold mostly in drinking holes and dining places.

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Find out more at VINEXPO

VINEXPO, the leading International Wine and Spirits Exhibition, returns back to Hong Kong from 24-26 May 2016. Showcasing the world’s premier wine producers with 60 dynamic events and activities, including highlight on Italian wines with masterclasses & tastings, exclusive forum on China and Australia market, ‘One to Wine Meetings’ tailored for exhibitors and trade executives, and a ‘Shiraz Day’.

Presentations on latest trends of key interest to sommeliers and F&B managers are by famous winemakers and critics including Debra Meiburg, Dixon Yuan, Jeannie Cho Lee, Li Demei, Michel Rolland, Simon Tam and Bettane & Desseauve.

For more information on how you can benefit as a trade visitor, visit their website www.vinexpohongkong.com

4 Tips on Proper Wine Storage

Last month, I was invited to Gaggenau’s event, where Julien Drevon, Head Sommelier from Sarment shared about the Super Rhône wines. For those who are unfamiliar with this new “classification”, Super Rhône Wine is an unofficial category of Rhône wines not recognized within the French wine classification system (AOC). It’s inspired by the Super Tuscan producers who decided to step out of the rigid Italian appellation system by introducing a new category of world class wines.

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Wine like Super Rhône and Bordeaux required proper storage. For wine lovers who are serious about what their collection, here are four tips I learnt from the experts on proper wine storage:

  1. CONSISTENT TEMPERATURES CONTROL 

The number 1 most important point to note when storing wine is to never let the temperature rise above 24°C at all times. At 24°C, wine begins to oxidize, it’s important to keep it below this temperature. Storing wines at the right temperature slows the aging process. It won’t “hurt” the wine, provided the temperature remains consistent. Optimal range for wine storage control is from +5 °C to +20 °C.  It’s recommended to get a dual climate zone wine fridge or to store your red and white separately. For red wines, the ideal range is 12-13°C and for white wines the temperature is cooler at 7-8°C.

  1. PROTECTION

Wine is affected by light, so when storing it, keep it in a cool, dark place. This is also the reason why you should always get bottles from wine shops and not those under harsh spotlights in duty free stores. Exposure to sunlight can ruin your wine and lead to an unpleasant smell.

  1. HUMIDITY CONTROL

Humidity in the wine storage area should be kept at a constant 70 percent humidity. Higher humidity level keeps the cork from drying out and minimizes evaporation of the wine. A humidity level that’s too high can cause mold to grow and wine labels to fall off over time.

  1. VIBRATION CONTROL

Vibrations can also affect the condition of wine in the long term. Sometimes, significant vibrations could possibly disturb the sediment in older wines and keep them from settling, potentially making them unpleasantly gritty. It’s important to ask and choose a wine storage with low-vibration operation for your wines to age perfectly.

Gaggenau Vario cooling 400 series

This article is brought to you in conjunction with Gaggenau and Sarment.

Made in Germany, with a history of more than 330 years, Gaggenau is a manufacturer of high-quality home appliances and an innovation leader in design and technology. Gaggenau RW 464 wine climate cabinet helps to achieve consistent temperatures with exact control. It comes with two independently controllable climate zones, UV protection feature, humidity control, and is engineered to operate with barely any vibrations so you can be assured that your wines are well taken care of.

More than a wine merchant, Sarment aims to provide bespoke wine and lifestyle services to its Luxe Club Members. Members receive exclusive invitations to monthly cocktail nights, two bottles of wine curated by their world class sommeliers and access to other Luxe Privileges.

Staycation in Chinatown, Singapore

Everyone needs pampering once in a while. Since I started my new job last month, I had been working till late almost every day and was really looking forward to the SG50 National Day long weekend. Since I was unable to fly off for a short getaway, the next best thing was to do what Singaporeans love best – staycation.
The lovely thing about a staycation is learning how to be a tourist in your own backyard and rediscovering your own city. For these reasons, we decided to check out the newly opened Thai restaurant in Telok Ayer Street followed by an overnight stay at Hotel 1929.
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Recently opened in late July 2015, Cha Thai is the second concept restaurant by Loaves Me Group. Cha Thai simply means Thai tea, you know, the popular sweetened iced tea (teh peng) that we would usually buy from a cafe or street vendor in Bangkok. I don’t know why the owners named the restaurant as such but I am guessing they want to introduce a fusion concept of toast & tea to us. Think of it as Toast Box, or Ya Kun but Thai style – the take-away counter forms only one part of the restaurant.
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But today I want to share more about it’s main restaurant and it’s menu. Before I continue further, I have to remind you that this blog post is about pampering myself. So Cha Thai is considered expensive if you are comparing to Thai restaurants in Golden Mile but it definitely gives Thai Express a run for their money, cos Cha Thai offers premium Thai cuisine at an affordable price in a casual, relaxing setting.
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Creamy Crab Roll ($15) – Deep fried spring roll sticks served with crab cream sauce
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[Front] Tom Yum Soup (Thick) $28 -Thick soup base created with variety of herbs with tiger prawns, mussels, fish balls and mushrooms. [Back] Tom Yum Soup (Clear) $28 – Clear soup base herbs and basil leaves with tiger prawns, mussels, fish balls and mushroom.
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Baked Pineapple Rice ($18) – Curry spiced baked rice with chicken, pineapples, cashew nuts, sweet pepper bells, and raisins

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[Left] Steam Giant Sea Bass Fillet ($35) – Ocean seabass fillet boneless steamed with chili, garlic, herbs and lime sauce. [Drinks] Butterfly Pea Juice and Lemongrass Tea (both at $3.90 each)
What makes me love Cha Thai is that they use premium ingredients. For our appetizer, the spring roll sticks, it is served with real crab meat inside the cream sauce. For soup, I recommend the Clear Tom Yum Soup as it is lighter in content comparing to the Thick Soup, but equally spicy. Chopped Chinese sausage was topped onto the Pineapple rice, making it an perfect fragrant combination. The steamed Sea Bass was fresh and without the ‘fishy smell’. To round it off, we ordered the toast cubes. Try the Cha Thai version of kaya (coco jam), a refreshing taste to pair with the golden brown toast cubes.

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Cha Thai Toast ($8) – Golden brown toasted cubes with choice of pandan or Cha Thai (Thai tea) flavor
After our meal, we took a 10-minute walk from Telok Ayer Street to Hotel 1929 in Keong Saik Road via New Bridge Road. The walk was also a good way for us to burn off some fats and digest our food. It’s been a while since I stayed at a boutique hotel, the last time was in Malacca.
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Hotel 1929 is a boutique hotel in Singapore’s Chinatown. Hotel 1929 beckons with a whimsical mix of old world architecture and a chic interior. The boutique hotel consists of five conservation shop-houses built in 1929, and features 32 individually designed rooms decked in a mix of classic designer and retro vintage furniture. 1929 is conveniently located along the fringe of Chinatown, a 5 minute walk from Outram Park MRT Station.

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After check-in, we proceed to head up to the top floor. We walked past through the narrow corridor along the 4th storey  and were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by our small suite. At the first glance, it looked like a pigeon hole and reminded me of some hotels in Hong Kong that I had stayed at before. After the rain had stopped, we discovered the roof top terrace that was part of the Terrace Suite, it provided a great hang out spot for four of us.
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The indoor blue mosaic-tiled shower room is fairly small too. There is no partition between shower area and toilet bowl so be careful not to wet your toilet seat. But what the guestrooms lack in size, they make up for in amenities. There is premium coffee-making machine with Nespresso capsules, handy smartphone (I didn’t get a chance to test it out), outdoor bath tub, mini bar with coke and juices. If you consider the terrace area, it’s really comfortable initmate retreat.
We spent a lot time and fun, taking turns on the rocking chair. Overall Hotell 1929 is a designer concept with artsy decor centered around different types of chairs. For example, there were various vintage barber chairs in the lobby, and special theme for every room.
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For dinner, we went for the set dinner at Restaurant Ember. Priced at $88++ per person, it might seemed expensive but the 4-course dinner was definitely worth every dollar for the experience. I chose to add on the wine pairing at $30++ for delightful dinner.
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The bread is freshly baked. It’s so delicious that we asked for a second helping.
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1st Appetizer – Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops, Daikon, Arugula, Ginger & Rice Water Vinaigrette
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2nd Course – Pan-seared Foie Gras, Slow-cooked Eggs, Unagi & Truffle Sauce
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Main Course – 60-hour Slow-cooked Angus Short Ribs, Burnt Onion Puree, Tomato Confit & Beef jus
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Dessert – Champagne Jelly, Macerated Stawberries & Yogurt Sorbet
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Complimentary dessert from Restaurant Ember

After dinner, we took a walk around the neighbourhood. Located at the uptown part of Chinatown, the hotel is away from the usual crowd. During the day it is an area where small business and offices are located. When night falls, the mixture of cafes and eateries come to live.

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In the morning, I tried bathing at the outdoor shower. Honestly, it can be a very liberating experience, something for you to check off your bucket list. But the weather was not in my favour, the sky soon turned dark and there was light rain. The curtains kept flying – either sticking onto my soapy back or semi-exposed my naked butt. I really won’t recommend to use it during a windy day but people with outdoorsy fetish or exhibitionist will definitely enjoy it.
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After showering, we went downstairs for breakfast. For breakfast, Restaurant Ember serves breakfast set with choice of scramble, soft/hard boiled or sunny side up eggs. Every set comes with baked potato, beans, bacon and sausage. We help ourselves to the table of toasts, croissants, fruits, cereal and porridge. The croissants were very yummy even though we didn’t toast it. After we were done with our meal, the staff served us yogurt while we were enjoying some fruits.
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Overall, Hotel 1929 is an awesome experience for a 1 or 2 nights stay. I wish we have more time to enjoy the alfresco area as it was raining when we were staying there. I would definitely recommended it for tourists and local staycations. One thing to note is that there is no swimming pool and gym at Hotel 1929 but hotel guests can use the facilities at New Majestic Hotel at Bukit Pasoh Road just further down.
Hotel 1929 is located at 50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089154 (nearest MRT station: Outram Park – NE3/EW16). Visit their website for more information and reservation.
Cha Thai is located at 80 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 048466 (nearest MRT station: Downtown – DT17). Visit their Facebook page for more information or call 6636 3696 to make a reservation. Open daily from 8am to 10pm.
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[Contest] WIN $50 F&B VOUCHERS – 3 SETS TO BE GIVEN AWAY! 
Answer this simple question: What is the name of the Thai Restaurant mentioned in this article?
Please reply in the comment below, make sure I can contact you via email 🙂

Review: Pacific Express Hotel Central Market (Kuala Lumpur)

My bus turned slowly into the driveway and finally came to a haul. The time was 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. I grabbed my bag and walked briskly towards KLCC LRT Station. From there, I took the LRT and alighted at Pasar Seni LRT Station. Walking past the Central Market, I reached Pacific Express Hotel.

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Designed for the modern travellers, “express hotels” like this are the new focused-service model, providing crisp service for both business and leisure tourists while ensuring the core product – the guestrooms – is comfortable and affordable. Ideally located in the heart of downtown Kuala Lumpur, at the crossroad of Chinatown district and the historic district, Pacific Express Hotel is within walking distance from landmarks such as Central Market, Petaling Street, Masjid Jamek, Masjid India Bazaar, Merdeka Square, National Mosque and many more interesting building and attractions.

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The 207-room hotel was converted from a former banking building, making it the perfect location for business travellers with banks and many corporations surrounding it. Pacific Express Hotel features contemporary designs with modern stylish furnishings with 4 types of guestrooms to choose from: Standard, Superior, Deluxe, Pacific Room.

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Standard (19-22 sqm) – No window
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Superior (19-20 sqm) and Deluxe (22-25 sqm) – similar layout
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Pacific Room (30 sqm) – suite style
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Pacific Room comes with lounge area that is partitioned from the bed and it is the only room type with bath tub.

Regarding facilities, besides the regular room amenities (mini fridge, bottled water, coffee/tea making, LED TV, hair dryer, etc), what I am impressed with and enjoyed the most is the fact that all bathrooms have deluge rain shower in their standing bathroom. I also enjoyed the view from the rooftop swimming pool and the workout from the gym.

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For the business-centric travellers, there are two meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 30 persons each, with flexible option of combining the two meetings rooms to host up to 60 persons. Half day meeting package starts from RM50++ per person and full day meeting package is from RM85++ per person. There is also a small business centre available for guests who require secretarial assistance.

I spent the whole afternoon walking around the historic districts and went into Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. Admission fee for KL City Gallery is RM5 per person, but you also given a voucher worth RM5 which can be used to offset for the food or drink you order at the cafe. KL City Gallery reminds me very much of the Singapore City Gallery at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). There are mini models of the Greater KL Region as well as exhibition on the different historical buildings surround the hotel.

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A trip to KL is not completed with catching up with my friends. I was lucky to squeeze in 4 appointments within my 2D1N trip, including a durian session with my mates. Considering that it was the durian season, it was definitely fun for us to pick up Mao Shan Wang (Cat Mountain King) and Ang Hay / Hong Xia (Red Prawn) from one of the ad hoc durian vendors and bringing them back to my friend’s apartment for a feast.

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I had my breakfast the lobby cafe. The food was alright but choices were limited to nasi lemak. But do bear in mind that it is an express hotel so the breakfast is mostly catered for those who just want to fill their stomach and get on with their day. What they lack of in food variety, they make up in service. When I arrived for breakfast, the attentive staff would ask me for my drink order and serve to my table. When the fried egg at the buffet corner ran out, they automatically serve me a portion without me asking for it.

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I heard from the staff that the cafe is a popular place for lunch and afternoon tea among the office workers among the hotel. The items on the lunch menu range from RM8-14 for a main course, very economic in my opinion.

Alternatively, my suggestion is to take a walk around Chinatown / Petaling Street and let your nose do the deciding for you. There are two popular place for congee and chee chong fun (rice noodle roll).  Since I already had breakfast at the hotel cafe, I decided to buy muah chee from the old lady street vendor. There are several different flavours and I bought the mixed package at RM5.

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All in all, it was a good trip for me. Although my friends were concern about me staying at Chinatown and reminding me to be careful with my belongings as it’s not a very safe area. I didn’t experience any potential crime but it always helps to be caution.

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Tip: There are graffiti along the canal right next to Pasar Seni LRT Station. It’s very popular with youngsters to pose with selfie sticks there.

Pacific Express Hotel is managed by Pacific Regency Hotel Group. Five minutes walk away from Pasar Seni LRT or Majib Jamek LRT station.

Address: Jalan Hang Kasturi, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

Tel: +603 2022 6888    Fax: +603 2022 6868

Email: info@pacific-express.com.my

Website: www.pacific-express.com.my

Wine Tips from Wanderwine.com

There is a new online wine retail in town! The guys at Wanderwine.com may have just the right formula to become the next Airbnb or Uber of the wine industry – affordable, accessible and advice – the 3 key ingredients that every consumer needs, whether you are a new drinker or a seasoned wine appreciator.

Offering an initial inventory of 39 labels handpicked from Australia, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland, perhaps missing only South Africa or U.S.A., I believe there is a bottle for everyone at Wanderwine. I love these good people because they believed that great wine and the education around it shall be accessible to everyone in Singapore, and being an online company enable them to do that!

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They focus a lot on quality, both in the selection of the bottles, and also in the content on the online shop. For wine curated by their sommeliers, the consumers get high definition pictures of the bottles, the story of the wine, extensive tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, serving and drinkability notes, and even the pictures of the vineyards in the area of the wines. It is something that nobody would not be able to do in a retail shop without a tremendous amount of physical space.

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One of wanderwine’s tastemakers, Gerald Lu (Best Sommelier SG 2010)

The online element also allows more freedom and creativity for their sommeliers team as they can easily publish fun or educational articles to audience and share their knowledge about wine!

Wine selection and wine pairing are all about: 1. knowing yourself (your taste bud, your preference, etc), 2. knowing what you plan to cook or order for your meal, 3. lastly, it’s about fun, wine pairing is about trial and error. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past before I realize that I really prefer a light red like Pinot Noir or light / sweet white like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Moscato.

Pairing Asian cuisine with wine is a lot of fun, due to the diversity of cultures, usually requiring both roundness and freshness in wines to soften out the intense flavours and spices used in cooking. A well-chilled, crisp, young and fruity white like the Marlborough Seresin Pinot Gris would go beautifully with Tuna Tataki, Ponzu, Smoked Enoki, onion, or Puffed Rice. On the other hand, salted dishes, like the smoked salmon, or even salted egg yolk prawns will pair well with whites like the Amigne de Vetroz, La Danse des Etoiles, which boasts of good acidity and gentle tropical fruits notes.

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For red meats, try pairing the lighter, less intense braises such as duck or even cumin-spiced lamb leg with a Shiraz, such as the Two Hands Bellas Garden, bringing in a long finish of blistering yet silky, cushioned flavours. A red with an earthy palate and savoury characters is recommended for the other red meat selections. Paired with an interesting love story to “chase away the melancholy”, the Chateau Chasse Spleen from Bordeaux, France would serve as a good pick.

For a new person to red wine, the recommendation will be a Pinot Noir, which is lighter on the tannin. A good choice will be the Mercurey Premier Cru Clos des Barraults, which is hand harvested from 40 years old vines, ensuring the highest grape quality selection. A brilliant ruby colour coupled with a rich, “masculine” palate, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. IMG_2827

With wanderwine, you can expect to save between up to 40% off the usual retail price, while still enjoying the highest delivery and service quality. They do not have to carry the heavy weight of retail rental fee and thanks to that, they are able to pass those savings on! For example, the Bordeaux Haut Medoc Chateau Chasse Spleen that they have in their inventory would be around $135 in a brick & mortar retail shop, compared to $83 on Wanderwine.

Moreover, there is no minimum spending for delivery, but a delivery fee of S$16 is added on your purchase.  Purchases above S$75 enjoy free delivery, and Wanderwine sends your order to your door step by the next working day.

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MediaCorp artist, Elvin Ng was also there at the launch

Essentially, Wanderwine is really about pairing good bottles of wine with people who may not have known about them earlier. A good bottle of wine is a powerful tool; it can pull a party together, create enduring friendships and craft memories that last for a lifetime. Wanderwine is a reflection of the love for travel and discovery, all wrapped up in one package.

Goodness in a Claypot

Having just recovered from a horrible 4 days 3 nights of diarrhea, I’m finally able to eat normally again. During that period, there was one local dish that I craved for and that’s a piping hot bowl of porridge dish out from a claypot. I remembered when I was younger, my mom would always cooked porridge from a claypot when we were feeling unwell.

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Someone once said, “We tend to find comfort in the food that’s most familiar to us… Food is an extension of a culture, a memory, and a smell that transports you back to your childhood. There’s this element about it that has connotations of heritage and identity.”

Different cultures have different techniques of cooking food in clay. For us local Chinese, we like to use these pots made from unglazed & natural clay to cook Claypot Chicken Rice, various types of congee, “Three Cups” Chicken or Sanbeiji 三杯鸡.

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Claypot Sesame Oil Chicken 
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Claypot Fish Maw with Crab Meat Thick Soup
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Claypot Black Pepper Prawn Vermicelli

Earthenware claypots allow good airflow and have good heat insulation, therefore locking all the moisture and nutrients from the food while in cooking, creating a tender, flavorful dish. When heated, claypots provide slow evaporation of steam, which prevents burning so long as the pot is not allowed to heat until it is completely dry. This moist environment is conducive for cooking, resulting in very tender and juicy meats that are also richer in taste with all the nutrients seal inside the pot by the steam locking in. For the health conscious, claypot cooking uses less oil yet retains its natural flavours.

Unfortunately, with our busy lifestyle it’s getting more difficult to prepare our own claypot dishes. Thankfully, A-ONE Claypot House has 9 outlets spread across our island, allowing us to enjoy various local delights in different claypot cooking. (Click here to visit their website to see their menu and discover “Singapore’s Best Porridge”.)

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Dried Scallop Porridge with Minced Meat & Assorted Eggs 干贝三色混蛋肉碎粥 (Credit: A-ONE Claypot House)

For more recommendation on local dishes, check out my food blogger friend, sethlui.com. For yummy treats deliver right to your door step, remember to visit foodpanda.sg – Singapore’s leading online food ordering and delivery service.

Hotel Review: Park Avenue Changi

Managed by UE Park Avenue International, Park Avenue Changi is a 251-room business hotel built within an integrated development in the heart of Changi Business Park. Situated within walking distance to Expo MRT station, Changi City Point shopping centre, Singapore Expo exhibiton & convention hall, and UE Convention Centre, this hotel is a gem within the eastern business district.

The hotel is a good choice if you have business dealing in Changi North, Changi South, Loyang, Tampines, Bedok or Chai Chee TechnoPark. It’s right next to Singapore Expo and UE Convention Centre, super ideal if you are coming for seminars or trade shows in these places.

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Bird’s eye view of UE Convention Centre from the rooftop deck

Another plus point is that the nearby Changi City Point is known for its outlet shops. The shopping mall has a lot of sports and apparel brands there.  Singapore Expo is regular venue for consumer fairs that offer fantastic discounts on electronic, beauty products, etc so if you stay here, make sure you check out the sales there.

Though it’s quite a distance from the city, Park Avenue Changi is just next to Expo MRT station, which is only one station away from Singapore Changi Airport, hence it’s very good for those on layovers, without the hassle of traveling to city. It’s also a wonderful place for local couples looking for a quiet staycation. There are restaurants, cafes and even a NTUC FairPrice supermarket next to the hotel.

If this is your first time coming to Singapore for sightseeing, it’s a bit far from the rest of the tourist attractions. But don’t worry, it’s easy to travel since the MRT station is just next to the hotel. Bear in mind that they are constructing the Downtown Line (to be completed in 2016), so you have to walk a slightly further distance.

PAC Deluxe King
Deluxe Room
PAC Executive Deluxe (2)
Executive Deluxe Room (One-Bedroom Suite)
PAC 2-Bedroom (1)
Two-Bedroom Suite

Room-wise, my favorite has to be the Two-Bedroom Suite. Previously, Malaysian blogger Emily2U had written about the Executive Deluxe Suit of their sister property, Park Avenue Rochester. The experience is similar. All Park Avenue’s suites come equipped with washing machine, dryer and kitchenette with stove and microwave oven. In fact, the most unique thing about this hotel is that it has an large number of suites (80 out of 251 rooms) and the Executive Deluxe is their signature room. Another special feature of their rooms is that their Deluxe Room has a see-through shower room, which I think some couples will love. 😉

PAC gym
Decent-size fitness centre with Technogym equipments
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Rooftop lap pool with sunny loungers
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The rooftop deck offers an overview of Changi City

It’s an interesting integrated development concept, with the level 10 lap pool and gym located at the same floor as the serviced offices. I find the rooftop pool is small but it offers a view and good for cooling off after using the gym. The gym is fairly decent in size, equipped with trackmill, spin machines and weights station.

Another important thing to note is that there is no in-house restaurant but the hotel partners with nearby food providers. Weekday breakfast comes with a choice at Yum Cha Restaurant or Muthiah Restaurant. Weekend breakfast are served at Muthiah. In-room dining service is done by Slackers Bar and Cafe.

Overall, I will give it a 3 stars rating (for leisure travel) and 4 stars rating (for business travel). The rooms are really comfortable and basic necessities are within convenient reach. Being close to the MRT station is a big plus otherwise this property will be too isolated.

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Park Avenue Changi is currently running a weekend staycation promo from S$168++ for Deluxe Room with free unlimited WiFi, local calls and complimentary parking for one car. Offer valid until 31 December 2015, other terms & conditions apply.

Address: Park Avenue Changi, 2 Changi Business Park Avenue 1, Singapore 486015

Website: www.parkavenuechangi.com

Central reservations: +65 6830 8360 (hotline), pareservations@uel.sg (email)

Romantic Weekend with Horizon Bistronomy at Punggol Settlement

Mention Punggol and the immediate association is with the new residential estate of mostly young couples. Punggol may still be a new town in development and lacking in some facilities. But with the new publicity about Punggol Waterway Park, the town has come under the radar with many interesting places to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

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Located at the tail end of Punggol Road, The Punggol Settlement sits directly at Punggol Promenade. Just imagine a waterfront dining experience similar to Kallang Wave or East Coast Park, but with more privacy and serenity. The Punggol Settlement is a specialised food and beverage development concept envisioned aim to revive old Punggol back to its former glory as the dining destination of north-eastern Singapore.

With a total of more than 14 retail and restaurants nestled within The Punggol Settlement, you can have your choice from seafood, Thai, western, or even a Peranakan restaurant. It’s a great for a weekend family outing. For a quiet, romantic dinner with a view, my recommendation is Horizon Bistronomy located at level 2 of The Punggol Settlement. It’s a fantastic place to bring your date and enjoy a good French cuisine without burning a hole in your pocket.

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Horizon Bistronomy is a French restaurant that aims to deliver fine and quality French food to the mass market , in a casual and affordable setting. Head by Chef Chris Fong, the owner of Horizon Bistronomy, the bistro serves fine French delights in a casual setting. Chef Chris started his own restaurant because he wanted to introduce fine food to the masses without compromising quality.

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It was my pleasure to be invited by Horizon Bistronomy for their food tasting event two weeks ago. Here’s the list of the recommended menu and food description. I have also added my own comments as well as my ideal wine-pairing with the dishes. All wines mentioned are available at Horizon Bistronomy, by glass or bottle.

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Chilled Crab Meat Angel Hair (S$11.90) – Truffle angel hair topped with jumbo crabmeat infused with chorizo oil finished off with salmon roe. 

The first dish of the evening was the truffle oil-infused pasta pair with scrumptious crabmeat. For this appetizer, my recommendation is to pair with Waipara West Sauvigon Blanc 2013 from New Zealand. New Zealand is famous for their “crisp, elegant, and fresh” Sauvigon Blanc. It’s one of the few wines that goes really well with seafood.

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Assorted Tomato Salad (S$12.90) – Medley of fresh tomatoes  with home made red pesto and burrata cheese.

A refreshing salad with different types of tomatoes from Japanese, US and local. Although I like this appetizer for its freshness, but comparing the two dishes, I would order the Chilled Crab Meat Angel Hair if I can only choose it. The former is good for its value-for-money quality.

For this dish, I’ve selected Louis Latour Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012 from Burgundy, France. Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012 reveals an intense red color, with flecks of rubis color. Ample and powerful on tasting, this wine expresses an interesting aromatic complexity, coated in soft tannins. Perfect with grilled meat or cheese.

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Horizon Pork 2 Way (S$25.00)- 24-hour slow braised pork belly & Kurobuta pork tenderloin served with roasted cauliflower puree, vegetables, grape mustard and black pepper sauce.

The braised pork belly remains me of a Chinese dish – Dongpo Pork. In the classic French style of cooking, the braised pork is fat but well-balanced with the light cauliflower puree, and touch of grape mustard.

I would suggest ordering a bottle of Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012 to go with the tomato salad and Pork 2 Way. Alternatively, try this with a glass of Cheval Noir Bordeaux 2010 or Famille Perrin “Perrin Reserve” Cotes du Rhone, both from France.

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King of the Sea (S$22.00) – Miso infused torched king salmon & king prawn on a bed of assorted vegetables ragout.

I like the freshness and sweetness of the prawn is fresh & sweet. Chef added foam mustard to balance acidity of the seafood. Maybe I expected too much, but I was hoping that the salmon would have an X-factor but unfortunately it grilled salmon tastes fairly in comparison. Perhaps the chef’s idea was to lock it in its freshness.

Try pairing this main course with Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 2012 from Chablis, France. The cool climate of this region produces wines with more acidity and flavors less fruity than Chardonnay wines grown in warmer climate.

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Citrus White Chocolate Mousse (S$12.00) – Short crusted pastry layer with Valrhona white chocolate mousse, lemon curd, orange creme anglaise, sprinkled with white chocolate soil.

Onward to the desserts… The lemon curd is refreshing and able to balance off the sweetness of white chocolate. If you are planning to order a bottle of white, both the Sauvigon Blanc from New Zealand or Chablis blend are good to last the whole night. If you are ordering by glass, try tasting this dessert with  Paolo Saracco Moscato d’asti from Pietmont, Italy if you have a sweet tooth.

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Fig & Bacon Sabayon (S$9.80) – A unique combination of candied bacon and fig compote, with fresh berries and a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream, resting on a bed of champagne sabayon

How many times have you had sweet bacon as a dessert item? Well, if you are a lover of bak kwa then this special combination of sweetness, saltiness, sourness, cold, crisp with a touch of champagne is the perfect way to finish off the meal. Try pairing it with Joostenberg Little J Cinsault Rose 2011 from Paarl, South Africa.

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Garden by the Bay ($14.00) – Fresh strawberry, kiwi and apple bits layered by vanilla mousse, topped with dark chocolate soil resting on apple compote infused with cranberry.

The dessert gets better as it goes down the list. With a cute name like Garden by the Bay, this dessert consists of hazelnut & chocolate soil layered by vanilla cream with a touch of sea salt. The bits of strawberry, apple and kiwi help to balance of the rich vanilla mousse. Try the dry Pares Balta Cava Brut NV from Penedes, Spain to balance the sweetness of this dessert.

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Horizon Bistronomy is definitely a good place to chill out with your friends or an ideal date by the bay. The price is very reasonable and it has an great ambiance with sea view. Food is of good quality but don’t expect fast service. Quality French cuisine takes time to prepare so be ready to wait for 15-20 minutes between dishes.

The Punggol Promenade area, thought isolated, offers other activities to do around Punggol Road End…

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Gallop Stable and Punggol Ranch Resort

A laid back leisure park where you can try riding a horse at Gallop Stable, enjoy a drink or meal or even a staycation in one of the stable chalet at Punggol Ranch Resort. It’s just located right next to The Punggol Settlement. Scroll down to the end for directions on getting there.

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Cycling or taking a walk along Punggol Point Park or Punggol Promenade 

Want to feel like guilty before you pig out at The Punggol Settlement? Why not try renting a bicycle and go for a leisure ride along the serene Punggol Promenade? Or you can take a stroll along Punggol Point Park watch ships docking between the Straits of Johor after dinner.

Address: 3 Punggol Point Road, Singapore 828694

Reservation hotline: +65 6702 2855 (Closed on Mondays)

Getting there

If you are not driving, going to The Punggol Settlement and the other above mentioned places is not difficult. Just take bus 84 from Punggol MRT Station and alight at Punggol Road End.

Do you know of other places worth visiting in Singapore? Please comment below.

Best Budget-friendly Staycation Chalet – Treehouse Villas @ Changi

It’s been a long time since I attended a birthday party at a chalet, and due to my hectic work I was in a desperate need of a cheap and good staycation in Singapore. Through my BFF’s recommendation, I chose to spend my 30th birthday at Treehouse Villas @ Changi for a relaxing weekend with a few friends.

Treehouse Villas @ Changi, managed by MINDEF/SAF as part of their staff welfare, is the perfect place to unwind without the usual skyscrapers, shopping malls or HDB apartments. To complement the lazy weekend, we ordered sushi platter and Japanese pizza through Foodpanda for dinner. My friends are too shy to be in this blog so bear with my narcissistic photographs as I introduce this budget-friendly resort to you. (Read on till the end and find out how you can win $15 Foodpanda vouchers.)

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A stone throw away from Changi beach and 5-10 minutes walk to Changi Village, Treehouse Villa @ Changi is the perfect location for weekend stay. I love that it’s away from city, and if you’re craving for adventure, hop on the bumboat to Pulau Ubin or soak in the sunset at Changi Point Costal Boardwalk.

Once you stepped inside Treehouse Villa resort, you will experience its Balinese-inspired ambiance and greeted by its cow mascot as the chalet ground. Surround by trees, you can hear birds chirping in the morning. Each chalet unit is of either a 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom and can accommodate a big party, especially good for birthday party, family with kids or Christmas celebration. The 2-bedroom chalet I booked has a king-sized bed and a fold-away mattress in the master bedroom; the other guest room consists of a queen-size bed and single bed – which can allow up to 6 people to stay overnight.

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Each unit has two shared bathrooms, cable TV, free WiFi, barbecue pit, smoking corner, refrigerator, freezer, microwave oven and various utensils and cutlery to support your cooking needs . My favorite area is the bathroom on ground level because it has a sheltered outdoor bathtub. The resort also provides every unit with complimentary tibits & bottled drinking water, free barbecue supply, and mahjong table. Additional charcoal and BBQ accessories can be purchased from the clubhouse.

You can order BBQ packages from the clubhouse directly but one day advance order is required. Alternatively you can call for your own catering. For us, we booked our food delivery via Foodpanda, to me that’s the best for small groups. Our sushi platter and pizza from Nihon Mura was delivered within 1.5 hours.

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Only one parking lot is allocated to each villa, but there is alternative public car park near Changi Village. This area is usually quiet but it can get really packed on Saturday evening, so arrive early or you will face parking problems. There isn’t a swimming pool but sports facilities are available at the nearby clubs. You can rent a bicycle at Changi Cycling Service Pte Ltd located at Changi Village, produce your Villa card key and get special rate.

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In terms of service, the staff are friendly and helpful in general. Standard check-in is at 3pm and check-out before 10am. Friday was laundry day and we waited till 5pm for fresh towels to be sent to our villa. One important thing to note is that the reception is closed over the weekend so if you need any assistance, do it before they knock off on Friday.

Pricewise, Treehouse Villa @ Changi is unbeatable. The 4 days 3 nights off-peak weekend package costs around only $360. If you are planning for a weekend staycation for a group of six, it’s only $20 per person per night!

Address: Treehouse Villas @ Changi, 326 Sealand Road, Singapore 508252

Getting there:
Nearest MRT stations are Pasir Ris, Tampines, and Tanah Merah. Take Bus 29 from Tampines interchange and alight at Changi Sports Club along Netheravon Road. Alternatively, take Bus 2 from Tanah Merah station and alight at Changi Village terminal. I took a taxi from Tanah Merah and the 15-minutes journey costs less than $9 on a Friday afternoon. If you’re driving, take TPE and exit Loyang Ave, or drive along ECP and exit Changi Coast Road.

Booking tips:
Unfortunately, this good deal is only available for SAF regulars, i.e. full time staff in Navy, Army, or Air force. If you are a NSF or NSman, you can get your friends working in SAF to book for you. This is how I get my booking now. If it’s the non-peak season, they will allow you as proxy and your friend doesn’t need to check-in for you.  Remember to book in advance, as it is subjected to balloting, hence it’s best to avoid school holiday season and public holiday to increase your chance. And since there are more 2-bedroom than 3-bedroom villa, it’s easier to ballot for the 2-bedroom chalet.

*Thanks for all your comments and emails but I’m unable to assist with booking the rooms as I’m not a staff of SAF.

Win Foodpanda Vouchers!

In celebration of my 30th birthday, Foodpanda is giving away 3 x vouchers of $15 (min. spending $30) to my blog readers. Foodpanda is the most convenient tool for food delivery in Singapore with the widest gastronomic range. Ordering food is now easy, fast and fun, simply choose your favorite meal via their website or mobile app, and the restaurant delivers it directly to your doorstep.

To win the Foodpanda voucher, simply answer this question: How old is Malcolm Sunny this year? Reply in the comment below, make sure I can contact you via email.

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